44th annual Grande Illumination kicks off Dayton Holiday Festival

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Tens of thousands of people kicked off the holiday season at Downtown Dayton’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Friday.

The tree was donated by a couple from Harrison Township who planted it back in 1996. Now, 20 years later it’s in the center of the city for everyone to enjoy this holiday season.

With the flip of switch, the holiday season officially begun in Downtown Dayton Friday. A crowd of 25,000 people were there to witness it as more than 100,000 light bulbs light up Courthouse Square.
“I love Christmas,” Nicole Pentheny said. “So this is my favorite time of year.”
With temperatures in the 40s, people came prepared. Nicole Pentheny says she learned from years past not to leave the house without packing the gloves and blankets.
“You gotta be prepared, but one year we did come and it was really cold,” Pentheny said. “We were not prepared so ever since then we bring our blankets and our seats.”
Live music along with food and carnivals rides weren’t the only thing keeping crowds entertained throughout the night.
New this year reindeer are joining the holiday festival, which are just a small part of Virginia Kettering’s mission to bring the community together.
“It was her mission that the entire community would be able to come together regardless of their religious preference,” Courtney Deutsch said. “Regardless of their economic needs because all of our activities are free tonight.”
In order to make that happen Courtney Deutsch say it takes months of planning.

“We really start to get into it over the course of the summer,” Deutsch said. “And our staff is involved we have a 2 people who work on it plus some interns and then as it gets closer and closer there’s a lot more people involved.”

The lights will be on 24/7 for the next several weeks. The tree stays up through New Year’s Day.


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